WHAT IS THE CONFERENCE ABOUT?
THEME: LOCAL RESPONSES, GLOBAL ADVANCES: TOWARDS COMPETENT EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM
Complexity is the defining character of the changes we face in today’s societies. This complexity influences our choices in how to address the challenges that young children and families are facing in the early years, the founding period for lifelong learning. Migration, increasing poverty and inequality, segregation, multilingualism, mass-communication channels and tools, increasing unemployment rates, uncertainty regarding the future, social tensions and a lack of trust in political institutions, are only a few of the circumstances which affect family stability and wellbeing, and the environments in which young children grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.
These rapid changes can also bring opportunities: in an increasingly urbanized world, cities can play a key role in designing solutions to respond to the needs of young children and families. Increased connectivity across the globe makes it easier to learn about and share these solutions. The speed of the changes in today’s world also requires substantial shifts in the way early childhood systems are designed, equipped, governed, financed and supported, if we are to capitalize on the tremendous importance of early childhood development for children, families and communities. It is no longer possible to have parallel discourses that create distance between institutional arrangements, political priorities and the lived experience of families. Investments in a system that aims for the average majority excludes families on both end sides of the curve. Change management gives opportunities to customize local services/responses to all families regardless of their social and cultural backgrounds.
It is time to embrace a systemic approach to addressing the critical problems that hinder children and families’ rights, and to learn from local responsive approaches to build competent early childhood systems.
WHAT ARE THE CONFERENCE STRANDS?